“I will never fear standing before a judge!” exclaimed Noura Saleh. Noura and her teammate, Niveen Abdel Rahman, both law students from Al al-BaytUniversity, had just defeated Jordan University’s team in this year’s national moot court competition.
The victory was particularly gratifying for Noura and Niveen because Jordan University had won the previous two competitions and because no team from theirschool had ever even reached the final round.
Noura and Niveen advanced through three rounds of oral arguments leading upto the final competition, held at the Palace of Justice in Amman. In theprevious rounds, students from seven universities argued before panels ofpracticing attorneys and judges. Although it was initially daunting for many ofthe students to argue before practicing legal professionals in a realcourtroom, the advancing students became increasingly comfortable, their growing confidence evident to the judges.
Five senior judges and lawyers presided over the final arguments. “When Icame to the final round and found out that the judging panel consisted of Cassation Court judges, and that the minister of justice was attending the round,” saidNoura, “I was determined to give my best before them.”
Noura and Niveen received a trophy, and the minister of justice presented them with plaques and a cash prize. In addition to the prizes, the U.S. Agencyfor International Development (USAID) awarded the students complimentary registration in English language courses.
The competition also had long-term implications. Noura said, “Winning this competition gave me a lot of confidence and knowledge in my hidden abilities, including the skills of writing and performing, and love of team work. I was able to fulfill my ambitions and reiterate my decision to become a judge.”
Inspired by the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) work to develop an environmental law course for Jordanian schools, the competition addressed an important but often overlooked issue—the environmental impact of water usage. Professor Robert Percival, director of the Environmental Law Program at the University of Maryland, who is assisting with the development of the course, recruited his students to help draft the mock case for the competition.
To prepare the students for the competition, ABA ROLI organized training, including lectures by local and international environmental experts. Inaddition to exposing students to environmental law-related issues, the moot court was also the first time many of the presiding professionals worked on anenvironmental law case. The judges said that reading the case and othermaterials helped them understand an emerging area of litigation in Jordan.
In his remarks at the end of the competition, USAID Mission Director Jay Knott attributed the success of this program to the strong partnerships with Jordan’s Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Council. “USAID is very pleased to supportthis moot court competition for a fourth year,” he said. “We are especiallyexcited that moot court was recently incorporated as part of the legal education component of Jordan’s 2010–12 judicial upgrading strategy.”
ABA ROLI launched the moot court competition in Jordan in 2007. The competition has since been held annually with the USAID’s support.
To learn more about our work in Jordan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.